Dog-and-Child.jpg

Of Pets and Men

Well, yes, I know that Mark Twain observed that if heaven went by merit, our dogs would get in before the rest of us, and yes, that makes eminent good sense to me. He also commented that one of the distinguishing characteristics between men and dogs was that if you feed a starving dog, he will not bite you (which distinguishes cats from dogs as well). This was also a very sound reflection. But, at some point, even in a house overflowing with pets, people should take precedence, yes?

I speak of course, from various personal experiences on this. When I visit the home of some very dear friends, for example, they are aware of my awful cat allergies that begin with sneezing, move on to asthma, and culminate in a very difficult time breathing. So they move the cats to a different room, run the vacuum around the area where we will be visiting, and presto! We have a misery-free visit.

Then, there was the aunt from the 1980s B.C. (Before Claritin), who watched me sneeze until my eyes would barely open at all and heard me wheezing like a Dixieland Jazz Band while the asthma grew progressively worse. Her cat, evidently sensing the problem, made it a point to rub against me the entire time while my aunt simply wouldn’t dream of inconveniencing little Tabby or whatever she had named it, by moving him/her/it to another room for an hour or two while we visited. What possesses people to predicate their pet’s happiness on the misery of their guests and family?

My Dad, whom I love more dearly than life, has a couple of dogs. One of them, a Jack Russell Terrier, needs a priest or someone similarly equipped to perform exorcisms. That infernal idiot makes it a point to bite the other dog (a pug), sometimes viciously, each and every time he feels the other dog is competing for Dad’s attention, which infraction the pug commits by simply drawing breath. Besides which, the Jack Russell will not, repeat, NOT, stop yapping, loudly, constantly, and emphatically at such disturbances as pedestrians on the street, dogs on television, a blowing leaf, or the voices in his otherwise empty head.

What about people who do little or nothing to corral animals that scare visiting children? The aforementioned Jack Russell took an instant dislike to my 4-year-old grandson, for example, so that my grandson stayed cooped up in a chair for the better part of a day because every time the little guy would stretch his legs out a little, the stupid dog would start yapping and growling. To put that particular dog in another room, however, would insure non-stop barking and yelping for the remainder of the day because he’s just … that … stupid. At one point, my grandson got up and walked across the room, which prompted the dog to charge him, which prompted me to charge the dog, which prompted the realization that it was time to go visit elsewhere for awhile.  

Of course, the next house we went to also had a dog with an unfortunate tendency to bite guests.  But at least that dog was carried to the back patio, where, for the next two hours, it looked through the window forlornly, whimpering while its friends in the home carried on and lamented the poor animal’s banishment rather than the little child who preferred not to be dismembered.  The priorities seem out of sorts to me. Why even have a dog that bites and that makes visits with family and friends so difficult? At what point did animals start running the zoo?

And why, please Lord tell me, is it necessary to have dogs the size of shetland ponies standing in the dining room, looking over the shoulders of guests and breathing on their dinner? I visited another home not long ago where the very breath of a pit bull warmed my hand as I reached for a dinner roll. “Stop,” said the owners in utter futility. I can’t remember the dog’s name, and neither could he because he never responded to the owners half-hearted admonishments in any event, preferring instead to huff and puff over the enchiladas. Why does it occur to exactly no one to usher Trigger or Mr. Ed to another room just long enough for people to enjoy a meal without having the animal who just finished licking his nether region materialize to lick our hands while we dine? Is it unreasonable to assume that pets, as much as we love them, ought sometimes to take a little less precedence than people?

  1. The Great Adventure!

    And why is it acceptable for cat owners to let their pets wander the neighborhood, crapping in my yard, placing their muddy little footprints all over the hood of my daughter’s car, wandering into any open garage and spreading their hideous odors, etc. when those of us who own dogs have to either fence or leash them?  

    I loathe cats, btw.

  2. The Mugwump
    The Great Adventure!: And why is it acceptable for cat owners to let their pets wander the neighborhood, crapping in my yard, placing their muddy little footprints all over the hood of my daughter’s car, wandering into any open garage and spreading their hideous odors, etc. when those of us who own dogs have to either fence or leash them?

    Because cats know they are superior creatures and comport themselves accordingly. 

  3. The Great Adventure!
    ~Paules

    The Great Adventure!: And why is it acceptable for cat owners to let their pets wander the neighborhood, crapping in my yard, placing their muddy little footprints all over the hood of my daughter’s car, wandering into any open garage and spreading their hideous odors, etc. when those of us who own dogs have to either fence or leash them?

    Because cats know they are superior creatures and comport themselves accordingly.  · 2 minutes ago

    I use the garden hose on them primarily because it’s socially unacceptable to do something more harsh.

  4. Red Feline

    Why don’t we who train our children, cats, and dogs to be civilized speak up and simply say, with a smile, we find unruly children, cats, and dogs obnoxious? 

    This has brought that question to my mind, and now I will have to act on it. I play Bridge at the homes of friends with cats and dogs, where I end up with my voice rasping because of allergies to the animals. Now I will have to let them know, politely, that I would prefer if they would shut the animals out of the room when I am there. Even perhaps vacuum ahead of time. 

    That is going to take a bit of courage. I will “gird my loins” and “have at it”!

    Dave, why did you have to bring up this subject? 

  5. Foxfier

    I’ll second the “I don’t know why people do this” response.  I’m obsessive about trying to make sure folks aren’t saying they’re fine with the cats or kids just to be polite, but all our guests thus far like the cats, to the extent of giving them more attention than we do… then again, we also tend to offer folks the spray bottle if the cats get too demanding. :)  I just can’t understand folks who make no attempt to control their animals.  (Nor the ones that invite my kids to pet their dog after I say don’t.)

    Possibly your aunt was just that unobservant?

    The Great Adventure!: And why is it acceptable for cat owners to let their pets wander the neighborhood…when those of us who own dogs have to either fence or leash them?  

    I don’t know anyone that was maimed by a wandering cat, and I haven’t seen livestock or pets maimed or killed by them, either.  Never had a cat come at me outside, and inside I’ve never had the owner dismiss it as funny or harmless the way small dog owners sometimes do.

  6. Dave Carter
    C
    Foxfier: …

    Possibly your aunt was just that unobservant?

    To put it charitably,….yes.  Unobservant to the point of willful imperviousness.  

  7. Dave Carter
    C
    Red Feline: … Dave, why did you have to bring up this subject?  · 8 minutes ago

    Just a few recent experiences.  

  8. Dave Carter
    C
    Red Feline: Why don’t we who train our children, cats, and dogs to be civilized speak up and simply say, with a smile, we find unruly children, cats, and dogs obnoxious? 

    This has brought that question to my mind, and now I will have to act on it. I play Bridge at the homes of friends with cats and dogs, where I end up with my voice rasping because of allergies to the animals. Now I will have to let them know, politely, that I would prefer if they would shut the animals out of the room when I am there. Even perhaps vacuum ahead of time. 

    That is going to take a bit of courage. I will “gird my loins” and “have at it”!

    Dave, why did you have to bring up this subject?  · 16 minutes ago

    I’ve found that explaining that my allergies are such that I have difficulty breathing for 24 hours following the visit helps most folks understand the nature of the problem.  

  9. Larry Koler
    The Great Adventure!: And why is it acceptable for cat owners to let their pets wander the neighborhood, crapping in my yard, placing their muddy little footprints all over the hood of my daughter’s car, wandering into any open garage and spreading their hideous odors, etc. when those of us who own dogs have to either fence or leash them?  

    I loathe cats, btw.

    I like dogs better than cats — and I hate dogs. At least that’s what I told my kids whenever they wanted one and I needed to talk them out of it.

    I also admit that I like dogs too much to have one because I can’t spend enough time with one. Could I have one later in my life during retirement? Maybe. Dogs are unique in our lives. Just watch the TV documentary, “Dogs Decoded” — this will change anyone’s anti-dog feelings to at least admiration if not love for them.

    Badly behaved animals, kids or adults? It’s the “badly behaved” part that is the problem not the noun being so modified.

  10. Larry Koler

    Regarding the reason for the owners not curbing the bad behavior of dogs in or around their own house — that’s truly despicable and I have a theory that it is a kind of psychological misanthropy that is coming to the fore. Seriously — there’s something being communicated by owners who don’t listen to entreaties for the proposition that humans are more important than animals.

  11. D.C. McAllister
    C

    I hate to say it, but I think most people-even generally nice people-are pretty thoughtless. Empathy is a rare trait these days. So are good manners.

  12. My lovely wife is a veterinarian and she commented a while back that she has noticed a gradual, but very distinct change in how people treat their ‘pets’ over the past twenty years. Whereas pets used to simply be domesticated animals that we kept around for companionship and, on occasion, protection, a high percentage of pet owners nowadays treat their pets like children (and the psychology behind that could spawn another thread). And they tend to get a little uppity if you don’t treat them that way, too.

    Of course, animals are not children, but that fact of life seems lost on a good many pet owners and may explain some of the behavior you’ve noticed of late, Dave. After all, why would a homeowner inconvenience his own child for the sake of a guest. Especially when the little critter seems to take such delight in terrorizing the visitors!

  13. D.C. McAllister
    C

    I blame the environmentalists for humanizing animals.

  14. EThompson

    And why, please Lord tell me, is it necessary to have dogs the size of shetland ponies standing in the dining room…

    This made me laugh because our beloved orange tabby used to live next door to us until her owners added a Great Dane to their family. One week later, the cat had adopted us- for good. :)

  15. FeliciaB

    Boundaries and respect. We need to teach animals in our care that they have boundaries, and they will respect us. I love watching “The Dog Whisperer” because he stressed that concept to dog owners.

    A big pet peeve of mine is when animals owners refer to themselves as their pets’ parents. Animals are animals. Humans are humans. They are not even close to being equal. I say this as an owner of an 18 year old parrot who is racist and doesn’t like blonds. When she attacked my youngest because his hair turned blond, she was banished to spending all of her time locked in the cage when he is around. I’ve had her since she was 5 months old and called her my practice kid, but my human child comes first.

  16. She
    D.C. McAllister: I blame the environmentalists for humanizing animals. · 5 minutes ago

    Anthropomorphism has been around for centuries.  Look at Aesop’s fables, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

    In 1902, the extraordinary Beatrix Potter almost single-handedly re-invented literature for small children with a series of twenty three books based on the exploits of a bunch of bunnies, squirrels, frogs and hedgehogs.  In order to get the drawings right, she boiled her pet rabbit, Peter, down to his bones (after he was dead, not a Fatal Attraction moment) so that she could study how his skeleton went together.  No sickly sentimentalism there.  And not in her stories, either.

    No, I just think people today are thoughtless and stupid.  Many of them have too much money (and no, or few, children), so they have to spend it on something and find emotional validation somewhere.

    But, while we’re at it, can we please extend these animadversions on pet owners (and I am one: six dogs, six cats, six rabbits, 21 sheep and seven goats) to the parents of ill-mannered and obnoxious children?

    I find them just as annoying as misbehaving pets, and in most of the same ways.

  17. Dave Carter
    C
    She

    …But, while we’re at it, can we please extend these animadversions on pet owners (and I am one: six dogs, six cats, six rabbits, 21 sheep and seven goats) to the parents of ill-mannered and obnoxiouschildren?

    I find them just as annoying as misbehaving pets, and in most of the same ways. · 2 minutes ago

    Good point.  Besides, dogs are easier to house train.  

  18. MMPadre

    “Well, yes, I know that Mark Twain observed that if heaven went by merit, our dogs would get in before the rest of us, and yes, that makes imminent good sense to me.”  Imminent?  Dave, you planning to shuffle off this mortal coil soon?  Or did you mean eminent?

  19. wilber forge

    One tends to get along with critters better than most humans, and there is a less than flattering term for that. That aside, upon being greeted by a poorly trained dog, just say ” Bite me and I will slap you between two slices of bread !”. The result is, either the dog understands rather quickly or the owner removes the dog post haste. (Ground Rules Established).

    Truth is, most folks never take the time to establish a rapport with their dog or even train same. Says something about the pet owner as a whole in other areas as well.

    The troublesome thing about cats is the habit of makin’ love in the back yard at 3 A.M.

  20. wilber forge
    D.C. McAllister: I blame the environmentalists for humanizing animals. · 29 minutes ago

    Herb sniffing vegetarians tend to do that.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In